Sheriff Jones asks for support for local food pantry

Butler County Clerk of Courts Mary Swain, left, and Butler County Sheriff Richard K. Jones did a Facebook live to help bring awareness to the needs and raise money for New Life Mission on Henry Street in Hamilton. The mission is raising money for a new air conditioner and other repairs for the building. New Life Mission provides meals and food pantry items and serves as an outreach hub for many in need in the area. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

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Butler County Clerk of Courts Mary Swain, left, and Butler County Sheriff Richard K. Jones did a Facebook live to help bring awareness to the needs and raise money for New Life Mission on Henry Street in Hamilton. The mission is raising money for a new air conditioner and other repairs for the building. New Life Mission provides meals and food pantry items and serves as an outreach hub for many in need in the area. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

New Life Mission seeks $60,000 in donations to help with needs.

Butler County Sheriff Richard K. Jones went live on Facebook on Tuesday with Butler County Clerk of Courts Mary Swain to ask his followers for donations to a Hamilton food pantry in need.

“As you can see, we’re standing in front of New Life Mission,” Jones said. “They feed over 20,000 meals a year. There’s 3,000 families that come and get groceries here. It’s a cooling off place.”

But, the 7,000-square-foot center’s 20-year-old air conditioner finally went out. Pastor Felix Russo, New Life Mission’s director, said there were concurrent problems with the center’s freezer and other items that need to be fixed.

“As we’re standing here today, it’s 90 degrees,” Jones said. “It’s hot. I’m telling you, they need help. They need help to raise money to get their air conditioner fixed. They need money constantly to feed people.”

Russo said that, while the center has money reserves in order to keep operating, New Life Mission will need additional help to pay the bill to get the building back to functioning as it should.

“With the way the economy is, our donations have been down a little bit. We just need to raise funds around 60,000 [dollars] or so to get a new air conditioner and some of the other things [fixed],” Russo said.

Russo said the center is known by the general community for the food assistance it provides to lower income folks, but it’s further known by the folks it serves as a safe space to connect with mental health options, Job and Family Services or Veterans Affairs.

Swain, who sits on New Life Mission’s Board, said the center is also an important cooling resource for people without homes.

“Our homeless population, they’re still human beings,” Swain said. “They need meals, they need to be able to get relief from this heat. We are asking — begging — for help for our mission.”

Russo said New Life Mission has been a place that Butler County’s homeless population trusts, which allows the center to direct them to resources and additional help.

“We’re talking about people that sometimes society looks on as ‘those people,’ but they’re people,” Russo said. “They’ve had aspirations, dreams, and for one reason — or about a thousand and one reasons — have ended up on the street [or] in poverty.”

Russo said the center serves to “...connect people, to walk along with them and to help them move past where they’re at.”

Jones said Russo does a “marvelous job” running the center, and that it helps keep people alive.

“You gotta have compassion, so that’s what we’re asking for today,” Jones said.

More information about New Life Mission can be found at MissionHamilton.org.

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